The Pharisees Object to Jesus Eating With a Tax Collector

If they don't think He's the Messiah, why would they care?

Luke 5:27-32 (ESV)

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Did Levi just walk away leaving the cash-box open? No; Luke 5:28 does not mean he did this sinfully. He did walk away though. Don’t forget, Levi worked for Rome. Walking away from his job is still a bold move. Levi is abandoning his life to follow Jesus.

Next, we get another portrait of how the Pharisees just don’t get it. They don’t think Jesus should hang out at Levi’s house. They think the Messiah should only associate with people like the Pharisees. In fact, they think the Messiah should be a Pharisee.

But give them credit for an honest question. At least they’re wondering if Jesus is the Messiah. Their question makes no sense if Jesus is just some guy.

They are aware of his miracles and they are aware of his claims. Their baggage makes them almost totally blind to the truth but they haven’t totally rejected Him yet. So they ask, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

And Jesus gives them a straight answer. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

The Pharisees really should understand this. Prophets are all about repentance. Why would the Messiah be any different?

But the Pharisees can’t think outside the box. They assume that the Messiah should be like them, and when Jesus doesn’t fit the mold, they can’t adjust.

This isn’t going to end well.


God is just as much the God of surprises today as He was back then. Just as the Pharisees couldn’t adjust to the surprises, we struggle to adjust too.

Sure, some “surprises” are real setbacks, but we also struggle with meaningless changes in plans just because they aren’t what we were planning on. This is pure sin. Sin is rebellion against God – refusing to let God be in charge. It’s good to plan ahead, but getting ticked over God’s redirections is wrong.

He’s the Lord. We’re supposed to humble ourselves before Him and let Him guide our lives.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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